Last year, I warned collision repairers about the onslaught of complete mobilization with my May 2015 column entitled "Are You Prepared for Google’s Mobilegeddon?" You can read it on our website, but the bottom line is, we're now deep into the mobile age, and if you haven't made your website mobile-friendly yet, you're missing out in a big way.
In 2010, experts predicted that mobile traffic would trump desktop internet usage by 2015, and it looks as though the experts were 100% right on the money. Mobile digital media usage in this country is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop at 42%.
Luke Middendorf is an internet expert and the owner of WSI Connect, a marketing agency that strives to deliver solutions-- through digital marketing--for a wide range of clients, including collision repair. By leveraging various strategies and tools such as search engine optimization (SEO), online pay-per-click advertising (PPC), email marketing, social media, website design and optimization, Middendorf is helping shops to achieve great things online.
Part of any company's success online involves testing, testing and more testing, according to Middendorf. "I recently analyzed the device data that we accumulate from all of our clients," he said. "On the low end, 50% of all of this traffic originated from a mobile phone or a tablet. With some of our clients, that figure was closer to 80%. So we can safely say that at least half of their total traffic is coming from mobile devices, and we believe that number will keep going up."
Why are more and more people using their smartphones instead of laptops and desktop computers to access the internet? "Because the information is truly in your hand," Middendorf said. "It's all about the instant connection and speed. People are relying on their smartphones for their information more and more and making them a larger part of their daily lives."
Another factor that has made this mobilization rampant is the fact that the newer smartphones are more powerful and affordable. "If you have a 4G smartphone with basic Wi-Fi, it's essentially a laptop in your hand," he said. "These devices are getting faster, with bigger screens and more features that make searches much easier."
In addition to all of this mobilization, Google utilizes mobile-friendliness as a ranking criterion for searches conducted on mobile phones. Websites that are mobile-friendly are given strong preferential treatment. This is good overall because they offer consumers a much better user experience when viewing them on our mobile devices, Middendorf explained.
So let's say you haven't made your website mobile-friendly enough--or at all--and you fear that people are not finding you on their smartphones? Well, that should be a concern, so we asked Middendorf what to do for those shops that are late to the mobilization party.
First, Middendorf suggests that you take your smartphone and search for your website on the device. It's a simple task, but it will reveal much. Just pull up a browser on your mobile phone and search for your shop's name.
"Notice that each result has 'Mobile-friendly' next to the meta description," Middendorf said. "This indicates that Google considers that particular page to be mobile-friendly. However, even if you see that tag, it is still very important to test your site further so that you can ensure that your visitors have the best experience possible."
To drill a little deeper, Middendorf recommends three tools that will help you to test the mobile-friendliness of your site.
Peek User Testing
This is a service where you can enter your website and have it tested on either a desktop computer or mobile device by using www.peek.usertesting.com. For the purpose of this exercise, be certain to select “Test My Mobile Site” on this site, according to Middendorf.
Once the user hits start, your test will be submitted to their community and a real person will record their experience as they navigate through your website on a mobile device. You may request up to three recordings each month, according to the company's website.
"I recommend getting a couple different recordings of your mobile device, and Peek User Testing will help you to do this," Middendorf said. "Just because your website looks great on an iPhone doesn’t mean that it works well on Android devices. Another factor to keep in mind is that the viewer is landing on your website without any previous information. On the contrary, if someone hits your website through a Google search, they can expect that it is closely related to the keyword they entered while conducting their search."
Google’s Mobile-friendliness Test
Google's handy mobile-friendliness test is simple to use. Input the page you would like to check and the tool will tell you if the page is mobile-friendly. It will also give you a preview of how the page will look on a mobile device and give you tips on how to make the page more mobile responsive.
Google’s Search Console
For many of his clients, WSI Connect accesses a Mobile Usability report from Google in its Search Console. "This nifty tool lets you know if your entire site is mobile-friendly, not just a single page," he said. "It lets you know about common usability issues such as the presence of flash content that is incompatible with most mobile browsers, the absence of a viewport metatag to control site layout on mobile devices, hard-to-read fonts and clickable links that may be too close together. This allows us to see each individual page that may still have some issues. We can then drill down on the individual page to test them using Google’s mobile-friendly test."
So if you did not heed the warning about Mobilegeddon last year, fear not, because it may not be too late. Affordably and rather quickly, you can mobilize your website to become as mobile-friendly as you want it to be.